LAUREL, Md. -- Today, July 14, 2015, NASA will make history when its New Horizons spacecraft becomes the first mission ever to fly by Pluto, and the folks at Google are celebrating with an appropriately celebratory Google doodle.
The animated Google doodle shows the Pluto flyby as New Horizons whips by the dwarf planet at a mind-boggling 31,000 mph (49,889 km/h). Launched in 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft has traveled for more than nine years and across 3 billion miles (4.7 billion kilometers) to reach Pluto. You can watch NASA's Pluto flyby webcast on Space.com, beginning at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT), which will originate from New Horizons' mission operations center here at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where more than 1,000 guests, dignitaries and reporters are expected to attend the historic encounter.
According to Google, today's Pluto flyby doodle is meant to celebrate the unprecedented encounter with Pluto at the edge of the solar system.
"Today's Doodle was created by Kevin Laughlin in honor of New Horizons' intrepid voyage to Pluto's distant corner of the solar system," Google representatives wrote in a statement. "Celebrate this scientific breakthrough on NASA's New Horizons YouTube page, where you'll find videos detailing the extraordinary discoveries the space probe uncovers."
Already, New Horizons has beamed to Earth spectacular images of Pluto, but those images will be a their best today, when the probe approaches within 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) of the dwarf planet and snaps its closest and most detailed views.
You can follow Space.com's latest images and stories on the Pluto flyby here: New Horizons Probe's July 14 Pluto Flyby: Complete Coverage.
- Destination Pluto: NASA's New Horizons Mission in Pictures
- How NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto Works (Infographic)
- Pluto Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Dwarf Planet?
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